Yesterday, Logitech announced its $349.99 G Cloud Gaming Handheld, due out in the US on October 17 (until then, it’s $50 off to pre-order). Today, I was able to test it briefly. It was only a 10-minute demo, but it was enough to take a few photos, launch a few apps, and see how it felt in my hands. We will have a full review in the coming weeks.
When I got to the testing station, deadly loop (newly available on Xbox Game Pass) streamed over Wi-Fi to the Xbox Cloud Gaming app on your handheld. Unfortunately it was the intro sequence with no action, but I was still able to run and jump. While it wasn’t a fun killer, like all of my experiences with cloud game streaming, there was only a hint of input lag which, for me at least, is hard to ignore. On the plus side, the G Cloud’s buttons, triggers, and analog stick layout all feel good. As for visual fidelity, it’s hard to know how much a congested Wi-Fi network can be blamed, but the game’s dark environments looked a bit blurry on its seven-inch 1080p IPS panel.
That was not the case when I switched to Fortnite via the Nvidia GeForce Now app. Signing out of Xbox Game Pass and launching a new app was satisfyingly quick. My initial impression is that if your basic expectations for speed in a handheld consist of just the Nintendo Switch, I think you’ll probably be impressed by the responsiveness of the performance and the navigable feel of the interface, maybe not so much if you’re coming from a Vapor Deck. at its best, Fortnite it looks better and performs better on the G Cloud Gaming Handheld than it does on the Switch (not a very high bar, I know), though that depends entirely on the capabilities of your Wi-Fi network. Of course, since this is an Android-based handheld, it’s probably possible to get Fortnite loaded into this thing and don’t worry about the whole cloud aspect. Not sure how well it would perform with its Snapdragon 720G and 4GB of RAM though.
The rest of my time with the G Cloud Gaming Handheld was spent getting lost in its Android launcher that Tencent apparently helped develop, which feels ripped from the days of Android Honeycomb (although the unit I tested was running Android 11). It’s easy enough to find all of its apps, plus the gaming-focused ones it puts front and center. When you look at your entire app library, you can click a button on the face that serves as a portal to the Google Play Store, where you can download pretty much anything, I imagine. Aesthetically, the UI is trying to have a gamer vibe which didn’t quite win me over.
The G Cloud handheld is comfortable to hold. The integrated grips offer a good amount of palm support, and the textured plastic around the back and on the triggers is a nice touch. Just in terms of ergonomics, I’d definitely rather waste a few hours playing on this than on the Switch. At the bottom, there’s a headphone jack alongside a USB-C port that’s mostly used for charging. It doesn’t support streaming video to external monitors, I asked, though it will work with USB-C audio transmitters for headphones that offer that sort of thing. At the top left of the handheld’s rail, there’s a volume rocker next to a sleep switch (you can also turn it off via software). And finally, there’s a microSD card slot on the right side, next to the right shoulder buttons.
This handheld feels and looks well designed, and it didn’t take long for me to feel like it’s a device I want to spend a lot more time testing. Although, like most Logitech products, while it feels polished, spending time with it didn’t change the fact that I’m not a fan of its $349.99 retail price. You have to be totally convinced, not only of this handheld, but also of the services you want to play on. So the cost only goes up from there.
Looking beyond this handheld, it’s really hard to underestimate the value offered by some of the other popular handheld consoles right now, including the $199 Switch Lite or the more capable $299 Switch that can connect to a TV. . Not to mention, the Steam Deck’s $399 starting price is a tempting alternative if you want to play PC games on the go. Still, Android tablets turned into handheld devices that are readily available for purchase are single so rare that the G Cloud Gaming Handheld could be a hit. We will have to see.